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"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20


Filtering by Tag: matthew kelly

Treasure Map

Laura DeMaria

I love Matthew Kelly. The way he writes is so clear and approachable, and on many occasions he has helped me understand my faith better.

I receive Dynamic Catholic's "daily food for thought" emails and yesterday he shared a quote from their Confirmation program materials:

"Catholicism is like a really old treasure map. It may be old, but it still leads to treasure. I hope you have the courage and wisdom to seek out the treasure that is Catholicism. And once you find it, I hope you spend the rest of your life marveling at its beauty and applying it to you life."

I have felt this same way many times! Those of us who were born into the Church are told by converts: you have no idea how lucky you are. From the beginning, we are shown the map and all its secrets (which need not remain secrets long, with a little exploration and guidance).

The map that is Catholicism shows you where and how to live your life because in doing so, you get closer to God, the purpose of your life, and true joy. When I was not observant, how was I spending my time? And who or what did I rely on for strength? The rules in our church exist not to dampen growth and love, but to reveal and accelerate them. Those things we're not "supposed" to do are typically the ones that bring us the most sadness anyway, rather than freedom and happiness. True freedom is understanding you do not have all the answers, but there is One who does. I find so much comfort in this truth.

And, as Kelly says, it takes courage to find and follow the faith. Not everyone is up to it. It can be a radical decision, and not one everyone understands, to put your life in God's hands and accept His will. And it's a difficult thing to do; relationships are comfortable, habits are comfortable; excuses are comfortable. There is nothing forcing us to ask ourselves each day, "Am I living my true purpose? What is my true purpose? How can I get there?" and so it is easy to carry on in our old ways.

But when you step back and view the map: the Sacraments, the wisdom of the Saints, the beauty of Catholic community, and all the elements given to us by God so that we may find peace - you cannot help but fall in love. See your faith as a map, particularly in times of doubt and struggle. Stay on the path and you will get closer to true joy and meaning.

One Year

Laura DeMaria

Today is the one year anniversary of my Confirmation into the Catholic Church. Hallelujah!

I began a long and winding post about how and why I received the Sacrament, but realized, while my story is unique to me in its details, it is not unique to me in its universality. I simply struggled with the same heartbreak and emptiness that we all have. I truly believe that - we are all made with this inner compass which seeks unceasingly for the divine. How we orient that compass as we seek - toward drugs and alcohol, by seeking attention, staying in bad relationships (there's an endless number of ways, really) - is what differs from person to person and, ultimately, determines your level of happiness. You will always seek, but you will never be happy anywhere but in the light of God. That's it.

What surprised me the most was not just how badly I wanted to draw closer to God, but how compliant I was. It was as if I was getting little promptings saying, "Ok, do this - attend this church. Now do this: go to RCIA. And now this..." and I did it. I did willingly, gladly, because all of who I thought I was, was nothing. It did not exist. The real me, whoever that was, was not in my relationship that I had ended, it was not in the person I had loved, it was not in the future I had imagined for myself, or all the millions of little heartbreaks and disappointments I had gathered up around myself. All of that had vanished. The little cocoon of unreality I have been living in was stripped away and I had what felt like nothing left. I was positively limping along, and ran blindly to the church like a child crying to its mother.

So I went to Mass, and I went to RCIA, willingly, obediently, hungrily. It's almost silly to me now - how obvious this all is. When we stop fighting God's will is when everything falls into place. But, you must learn that lesson before you can live it.

I began to see small chinks of light breaking through the blackness as I opened myself up to God. Perhaps then I realized, really, that this was the process of falling in love - truly falling in love - with the thing that was in front of me all along. How unexpected! The Church of my family, the Church I grew up in and turned my back on, just out of ignorance, had all the answers I could have ever needed. The Church that had answers to questions I hadn't even thought of. I began to understand Catholic teaching holistically - from the perspective that God wants us all to be our real, true selves the way He made us, and that this is the same thing as "holiness." To be close to God is to love oneself. That just being is enough because God created us. That we are here to get ourselves and others to Heaven, and that this is an absolute blessing. That God knows us better than we or any other person every will, and that He so greatly desires our happiness. And all of these things, all of them taken together, beat so loudly and wonderfully in my heart because I was just beginning to understand what was truly real.

If you'd like the whole story, I will gladly give it to you. I do not think you need it, though. What you need to know is that opening oneself to God is the easiest thing, the hardest thing, the best thing. I am the same person I was a year ago - but I am so much better, because I am so much more myself. I thank God for giving me a chance to look at my life and to slowly and lovingly draw me out of myself. Matthew Kelly always talks about our mission to become "the best versions of ourselves." That is what being Catholic means; that is holiness, that is sainthood and nirvana.

The God who created Jupiter and the oceans also created you. And you are the most important part of all His creation. Who are you? What is beating in your heart and calling you?